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Pitching should carry Park Vista to another district title

Park Vista is used to winning on the baseball diamond.

The Cobras are the reigning District 10-9A champions and have won district titles in four of the last five seasons. Now, they’re poised to do it again this season, which starts for teams around Palm Beach County today.

“I’m excited. The guys are working hard,” coach Larry Greenstein said. “We’ve got a lot of returning players that got a lot of playing time, so if we continue to improve like we did near the end of last year, I think we’ll be very competitive.”

How the Cobras fare this season rests largely on a pair of arms — Emanuel Fernandez’s left and James Marinan’s right. The two starters, both of whom signed to play for the Miami Hurricanes next year, are coming off dominant junior seasons and are looking to repeat that this season.

Marinan, whose 6-foot-4 frame towers over the mound, throws a fastball, curveball and changeup. He said his fastball tops out at about 93 miles per hour, and he used it to go 5-2 with a 1.57 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 53 2/3 innings last year.

“This year, (in the) offseason, I got bigger, stronger, faster,” he said. “Everything’s coming together right now.”

When he’s not pitching, Marinan, who was the Post’s second-team All-Area utility player last year, is the Cobras’ first baseman. He hit .311 with a pair of home runs last season.

Fernandez does not hit as much as Marinan, but he is just as good on the mound. He went 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 44 1/3 innings as a junior.

Fernandez had to rest his arm during the offseason because of elbow issues, but he said he is ready to pitch now.

“It’s frustrating,” Fernandez said. “But at the same time, it’s also a good thing because Florida is one of those states that you can play year-round, and sometimes it isn’t good for the arm.”

The Fernandez-Marinan duo can keep the Cobras in any game, and they know it.

“With him behind me, we’re going to be pretty good out there,” Marinan said. “There’s going to be a lot of zeroes on the board in the first seven innings.”

Behind the two star pitchers, Park Vista has a solid roster. Hunter Brennan returns after excelling in a relief role last year, and the lineup is full of solid, experienced contributors such as seniors Chase Ashby and Joe Kelly, along with juniors Drew Kendall, Patrick Skibiski and Andrew Lee. Lee is committed to LSU.

“The maturity level of the team (is a strength),” Greenstein said. “We went through our ups and downs last year — as does every team —and I think this year, being a year older, maybe they’ll be able to handle it a little better and a little sooner than later.”

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